The Skin Game (1931)
Genre: Drama (UK)
Starring: C.V. France, Edmund Gwenn (Miracle On 34th Street, Them!)
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock (The Paradine Case, Under Capricorn)
Overview: A forward thinking entrepreneur of industry clashes with the rustic-minded and established family set on protecting their pristine countryside from big business.
Acting: I was so convinced at this stage that the acting in all Hitch's films would always be glorious. Sadly this does not have the lasting value to impress my disenfranchised X Generation mind into a tizzy. Brits acting all haughty is snobbish, not cool. I can't blame them for not knowing that the highborn accents and upturned noses would fall out of grace after Thatcher's reign. I can't blame them, but I will anyways for seeming so fake.
Cinematography: My favorite shot has to be the four-minute 'standing motionless in front of a car' piece of genius. Many people would miss the subtle nuance of the symbolism, blaming such ugly camerawork on unimaginative direction or technological constraints. In a later shot, a man speaks to a woman playing fetch with her dog. In this scene, the camera jostles and jolts, cutting off their heads as she tosses a ball that magically returns. The subsequent jumps and starts that the camera takes until the pan down to the actual animal, followed by the most awkward stage directions ever seen are clearly symbolic of the difficult time these characters are having, because even a goddamned monkey could have shot a better print.
Script: I was told that this film was insufferable, and when I heard the introductory plot-setting speech, I was impressed. Two men discuss quite florally how each feels and how each will not budge from their plans, be they ensuring that they keep the beautiful countryside intact or create out of this little town a center of industry. Each point is well made and each character is not clearly defined as being in the wrong. The addition of such dimension makes this film far more tolerable.
Plot: Imagine a back and forth escalation of troubles. It's a great story, done in such films as Changing Lanes or the lesser-known 2LDK, and the way these games of chicken go, it's enjoyable watching how far people are willing to go. Of all these tales of mounting feuds, I must say this is the worst I've seen. I guess I should be glad that it wasn't another Hitchcockian Love Triangle.
Mood: Ever so slowly can we see the sound technology improving from one Hitchcock to the next. Though the clarity is better and that God-awful sound of a needle tearing away at record vinyl is SLIGHTLY diminished, there are still moments that were simply completely unprofessional. There was once, during the auction, when a man reads what seems to be an official legal description of a plot of land. I wondered if his completely muted voice was drowned out to nothing on purpose, because it was so gross a miscalculation as to warrant the sound crew getting flogged.
Overall Rating: 50% (Sure Doesn't Feel Good)
Aftertaste: Nothing beats watching a film where the technology ties the hands of the director, the actor and the cameraman. At least it's nice to know that one more job was created to record the sound. Excellent! The world is moving towards a technological utopia! You know, in my field of work we swear by the concept that technology must be molded around the laws and policies created, not the other way around.
Damn film of the early thirties to Hell!
I hate them so much!!!!